Ramu, Bangladesh - The largest lying Buddha statue in the country is being built in Bangladesh for the Buddhist population in a Muslim-dominated country, said Venerable Karunasree Bhikku, who had the statue constructed.
"The statue is 100 feet long and 30 feet high and it will be the largest lying Buddha statue in Bangladesh after completion," he said.
Ven. Karunasree Bhikku, founder and director of Vimatti Vipassana Meditations Center, is constructing the statue on a hillock in a former Rakhine Village named Taung Chay Wra in Ramu Township in Co'xs Bazar. Work began on the statue in 2007.
"The statue is built at a graveyard of a former Rakhine Village where over 1,600 Rakhine households were living. Currently there are no Rakhine in the area because they abandoned it at the time of the Bangladesh liberation war. Now our Baruna people are living in the area," Ven. Karunasree said.
When ground was broken for construction of the statue, over 60 Rakhine ancestor bones were discovered in the earth, Ven. Karunasree added.
The area was previously known to Rakhine people as Taung Chay Wra Village, but is now known to locals as North Mithachari Barua Para. It is in Ramu Township near the Cox's Bazar highway.
"Bangladesh is a Muslim-dominated country but there is religious freedom and harmony. Because of that, I built the statue for the Buddhist community in Bangladesh to worship it," the monk added.
Construction on the Buddha statue will be complete in the next two or three months, and the image is already 75 percent complete. Some foreign countries reportedly donated some of the funding for the statue.
U Hla Aung Sein from Cox's Bazar said, "It is the largest lying statue in Bangladesh. I have never seen this size of a Buddha statue in Bangladesh before. We were all happy when we saw the statue in our area because we will have the chance to revere the Buddha's image in our country."
Bangladesh has many old temples and monasteries in Cox's Bazar District near Burma's western border. Many ancient monasteries have also been excavated in northern Bangladesh, including Bogra District 170 kilometers northwest of the capital Dhaka, which archaeologists estimate were built around 1,700 years ago.